Women’s surfing came a long way the last couple of years, and I like it!
How ever, in a sport that represents the clichés of freedom more than anything, we might don’t want to see the whole money making that comes with it. But today women’s surfing is as professional as it gets, and we have to except it. And if we can’t, we have to turn our back to commercialising it all together. If we do that, we shouldn’t care a bit about what we wear. And if we ever need a new bikini or pair of board shorts, we buy them in a second hand store as we don’t want to be a part of the sell out of our lifestyle.
The WSL pays double the amount of prize money to the men’s tour, as there are double as many athletes.
How the price money is split between the athletes is decided by the athletes!
And honestly, I don’t know any other sport where it works that way. The girls think it’s better to pay out a little less to the top ranked (as they make a lot of money anyway), but in comparison more to the lower placed. To talk numbers, this means if you surf a CT event and finish last, you still win US$ 10’000. 10k should be enough to cover all travel expenses, and to have a pretty decent yearly budget to work with, if you do the whole tour.
Australian surfer Bronte Macaulay is at the moment the lowest ranked surfer, who competed in every CT event of the season so far. After six events, she earned $61’500 in prize money not including any income from sponsors or endorsement.
So I would say, once you made it on tour, finances shouldn’t be a problem. But staying on tour is a whole other story!
The World Tour
Only a few years ago, the girls had nothing that deserved the name: World Tour! The “Tour” back then included four stops in Australia and New Zealand and only 8 events throughout the entire season. Keeping in mind that the worst two results don’t count, means someone could already be World Champ by the time the circuit leaves that part of the world!
A few years ago, The Tour kicked off in spring as always, and by the time the girls were prepping for the summer stops, Steph Gilmore was already the world champion. Luckily, these times are over!
They have a fantastic tour director, better sponsorship deals for competitions and a schedule that got rid of almost all the hick ups it had in the past.
The World Tour want to display the best surfers in the best waves, and want to find out who can do best in all kinds of conditions.
It still starts with three competitions in Australia, two of them are classic right point breaks, and who ever kicks off the year with some decent events down under, is set up perfectly for a great season. The rest of the schedule includes four beach breaks, and two of them usually suck. Rio is understandable with the importance of surfing in Brazil, but in Portugal, they could move it to a better location. But this has usually to do with sponsorship contracts. As I said before…business as usual.
The beach break of Huntington can be really good, but they are not there because the American Continent is short of great waves, but again it comes down to money. On the bright side, they’ve got the chance to surf some of the best beach breaks in France! A few years ago, they ran the Roxy Pro in the middle of summer in Biarritz. Beautiful location, great event and the kind of platform a sponsor wants. Unfortunately, there was not a single wave surfed during the whole waiting period! Biarritz needs more swell than other beaches in France, and the summer months are known to often be flat. After this debacle, the competition was moved to a strategically better location in France, and a time of the year with more waves.
But it’s not only beach breaks once they leave OZ. They have to prove their courage on heavy Pacific reefs in Fiji and Hawaii. Hawaii holds the final competition of the season in Honolua Bay. And this spot is by some of my friends called “One of the best waves this planet has to offer!” No better way to round up the season, and crown a Champ!
Call it “Dream tour”? Definitely yes!
And making a minimum of $100’000 in price money, sounds like an incredible dream to me.
After six competitions so far this year, everything is wide open. The top half of the field is still in striking distance. And with the interesting rule of two throw away results (your two worst results don’t count), it comes down to not only consistency over the season, but also about who can make a final or two.
There are a few surprises this year.
The four ladies sitting on 8th to 11th have what it takes to be on top of the pack! Most surprisingly multiple World Champ Carissa Moore sitting in 9th at the moment. Or on the other hand, French rookie Johanne Defay in 5th – No one saw that coming!
Looking at the Leaderboard tells you more than only the number in front of their name.
The darker blue, the better. At least as long as there are not more than two white fields. If you’ve got two white fields, that become throw away’s, but at the same time two dark ones (first place) like Cortney Conlogue, you would be world champ, if the season was already finished! This, of course, puts a lot of pressure on Cortney’s shoulders, as she can’t afford another bad result this year. But at the same time, she knows that if she keeps doing good, she could get the title! (She won two of the six competitions this year already.)
The top two placed Ozzies feel a lot less pressure over the last four months of the year, as both of them haven’t had a bad competition so far! And keeping in the back of your mind, how much talent is sitting on the back seats (8th-11th), it’s not unlikely to not find yourself in the semifinals in one of the coming events.
The building climax
Only four events left. Only four finals and eight semis to chase some much-needed points. It will most probably come to a show down in Hawaii at the end of the season. Just like in recent years. What could be more exciting, than a number of surfers, who are still in the race during the season’s final event? And they all know it’s in their own hands to make it.
It’s an exciting time to be a Pro Surfer on tour or a spectator in front of the screen. As hard as it is to make it on tour, I think there was never a more rewarding time to be there. It probably involves more work than ever before to stay on tour. Just look at the high level of surfing, and such a broad field of capable athletes.
And as much as those girls are doing a great job, so is the WSL. Doing business as usual, and making money while entertaining us viewers.
So enjoy what women’s surfing became, enjoy the rest of the season, and let them entertain you. OR stop wasting your time reading this, and go surfing. But please in your second-hand swim wear.